FBI spying on the press? You betcha

Yes, Uncle Sam is watching the press. So why is the press surprised by this?

Reports John Gerstein in The New York Sun:

A former counterterrorism chief at the CIA, Vincent Cannistraro, told The New York Sun yesterday that FBI sources have confirmed to him that reporters’ calls are being tracked as part of the probe. "The FBI is monitoring calls of a number of news organizations as part of this leak investigation," Mr. Cannistraro, who has worked as a consultant for ABC, said "It is going on. It is widespread and it may entail more than those three media outlets."

Under longstanding Justice Department regulations, prosecutors who subpoena a journalist’s phone records are required to notify the reporter involved within 90 days of obtaining the records. The regulations state that, in most cases, subpoenas should not be issued until after an attempt is made to negotiate access with the reporter.

Spokeswomen for ABC and the Times said their organizations had received no official notification of the effort to seek their phone records. The Washington Post did not respond to a call seeking comment for this article.

The executive director of the Reporters’ Committee for Freedom of the Press, Lucy Dalglish, said the government’s reported acquisition of journalists’ calling records was part of a pattern of intrusions on First Amendment rights by the Bush administration. "I’m ready to throw my arms up in the air," she said. "If there was a subpoena, they are supposed to be notified."

And the beat goes on.